Roseville Couple Arrested for Alleged Loan Modification and Foreclosure Rescue Scheme

October 2, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 1, 2012 released the following:

“SACRAMENTO, CA— Martin Wayne Flanders, 48, and Ligia Sandoval Spafford, 46, of Roseville, were arrested today on a complaint charging them with orchestrating a fraud scheme targeting distressed homeowners, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Flanders was also charged with conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud for filing sham bankruptcy petitions as part of the fraud scheme. The complaint was filed in Sacramento on September 28, 2012, and unsealed after the arrest today. Flanders and Sandoval are expected to make their initial appearances in court today in Sacramento at 2:00 p.m.

According to court documents, Flanders charged clients advance fees in exchange for a number of financial services, including loan modifications, mortgage loan audits, credit repair, debt relief, bankruptcy filings, and a program to sell homes to “investors” with a rent-to-own option. Flanders and Sandoval marketed these services to economically distressed homeowners with particular emphasis on those who were Spanish-speakers. During a radio program aired twice weekly by a Bay Area Spanish-language Christian radio station, Radio Luz, Sandoval promoted the services she and Flanders offered. Flanders also advertised on a Spanish-language television station, Univision, and in Spanish-language magazines. About 98 percent of Flanders’s and Sandoval’s clients were of Hispanic descent, some of whom spoke little to no English. Sandoval speaks Spanish; Flanders does not.

The investigation to date has identified 25 to 30 individuals who paid for services and did not receive them for a total loss of approximately $120,000. Some homeowners who were not able to obtain relief were foreclosed upon by their lenders.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Todd A. Pickles is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, they face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison on the mail fraud charges, and Flanders faces up to five years in prison for bankruptcy fraud. The actual sentences, if convicted, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The allegations in the indictment are mere accusations, and all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1341

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.



Federal bank fraud cases up in north Alabama

May 14, 2012

Blog.al.com on May 13, 2012 released the following:

By Kent Faulk

“BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Eight men and women have stood before federal judges in Birmingham the past few weeks on bank fraud charges.

Among them:

• A Mountain Brook man sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling nearly $1.2 million from his former employer by writing checks to himself on the company’s bank account.
• A former Union State Bank branch employee in Trussville sentenced to a month in prison for theft of about $25,000 from the teller drawer and bank vault in 2007 and 2008.
• A former Regions Bank telebanking representative who pleaded guilty to taking $190,000 from a customer’s account during a two-year period, and directing money from the account to pay her bills after she had left her job.

The number of cases being prosecuted for bank fraud by the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Alabama has steadily increased in recent years. In 2011 federal prosecutors charged bank fraud in 22 cases, up from 16 cases in 2010, 15 cases in 2009 and 11 cases in 2008. So far, eight cases have been charged this year through May 4.

Some cases include more than one defendant and other charges are also included in some cases.

“I guess it’s a sign of the times,” said James Kendrick, a Birmingham attorney who has represented clients charged with bank fraud.

Rod Pittman, director of corporate security for BBVA Compass, stated in a written response to questions from The Birmingham News that recently they have “seen a significant increase in fraud attempts, the majority of which can be attributed to the economy and technology.”

“In this economy many people are unemployed and more likely to be in a desperate financial situation. This sometimes results in attempted fraud,” Pittman wrote.

Some of those charged with bank fraud in the past year have been bank employees working alone or with help from outside the bank.

Bank employees may be thinking they will pay it back, Kendrick said. “Before you know it, you’ve got more than you can pay,” he said.

Bank fraud isn’t always an inside job.

“The crime of bank fraud is broader than a bank employee stealing money from the bank,” said Peggy Sanford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys Office in Birmingham.

“The statute allows that if someone makes misrepresentations to a bank in order to get other people’s money held in that bank, then bank fraud has occurred.”

Some attorneys and bank security officials attribute the increase in people being charged by federal prosecutors to a more aggressive stance by the Justice Department on financial fraud.

In many cases the dollar amount is the difference between whether federal prosecutors or state prosecutors will handle a case, said Larry Meredith, director of corporate security for Birmingham-based Cadence Bank.

The U.S. Attorneys Office has been active when it comes to presentations to the banks on various issues, including the importance of the timely sharing of information on possible criminal activity, said Bill Burch, director of corporate security for Regions Bank. “The communication between prosecutors, federal law enforcement offices (and banks) has been enhanced dramatically,” he said.

Sanford said the push by U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance’s office in north Alabama is consistent with the U.S. Justice Department’s efforts to make financial fraud a top priority and President Barack Obama’s creation of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Banks don’t generally share how much they lose to fraud schemes, but as an industry it’s in the billions of dollars each year, according to some estimates.

But it’s a lot more than the old fashioned way of illegally taking money from a bank.

“The losses are greater than if you had just walked in an robbed the bank with a note,” Meredith said.

While the money lost in a bank robbery may only be a few thousand dollars, the losses from both internal and external fraud is often tens of thousands of dollars and taken over a period of months and years.

The punishment for bank fraud varies. The range of sentences was one month to four years for those charged and sentenced so far in the 2011 cases on just the bank fraud charges. A few had longer sentences because they also had other charges besides bank fraud.

One person also was acquitted and couple had their bank fraud charge dismissed as part of plea deals at sentencing.

Wellington Monroe Phillips II was sentenced to four years in prison for bank fraud for embezzling nearly $1.2 million from a Birmingham-based natural gas supplier.

Twice a month Phillips issued himself an unauthorized check from the corporate bank account held at First Commercial Bank. He would forge the name of the company’s owner on each check and submit them for payment.

Bank corporate security officers say banks have increased security as new fraud schemes surface to tap into bank accounts.

Dan Bailey, chief executive of the Alabama Bankers Association, said that bank customers should take it upon themselves to help secure their accounts, including checking their accounts daily. “Catch it before it goes too far,” he said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Former Loan Officer Sergio Martinez Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury with Bank Fraud, False Statement to Influence a Financial Institution, Wire Fraud, and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud in an Alleged Mortgage Fraud Scheme

May 8, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 7, 2012 released the following:

“Former Loan Officer and Resident of Tucson Indicted for Mortgage Fraud Scheme

TUCSON— Last week, a five-count indictment was unsealed. The indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on March 29, 2012, charges former loan officer Sergio Martinez, 35, of Tucson, with bank fraud, false statement to influence a financial institution, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Martinez was arrested on the indictment last month in Buffalo, New York.

The indictment alleges that Martinez participated in a scheme to defraud a financial institution in order to obtain financing. Although Martinez was not the listed loan applicant, he allegedly caused to be submitted a loan application that contained material false statements including: (1) a false representation that the loan applicant was self-employed; (2) a falsely inflated income; and (3) a false representation that no part of the down payment was borrowed. The indictment further alleges that another document submitted to the lender falsely represented that the borrower would provide $359,982.38 in cash to close the deal when, in fact, the borrower and Martinez received a separate loan that was used to provide most of that cash. These documents were allegedly provided to obtain $1.4 million in loans to purchase a $1.75 million home. After the financing was used to purchase the property, the home went into foreclosure due to lack of payments. The foreclosure resulted in a significant loss to the lender.

An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

A conviction for bank fraud, false statement to influence a financial institution, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud each carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine, or both. In determining the actual sentence, Judge Collins will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. Judge Collins, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Internal Revenue Servic-Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson.”

US v Sergio Martinez – Federal Criminal Indictment

18 U.S.C. § 1014

18 U.S.C. § 1343

18 U.S.C. § 1344

18 U.S.C. § 1349

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Executive Indicted for Allegedly Defrauding Employee Benefit Plans of Public Housing Agencies Nationwide of $8.6 Million

May 3, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 3, 2012 released the following:

“CHICAGO— A former executive and part owner of a suburban company that administered employee pension plans and group life insurance programs for public housing authorities across the country was indicted for allegedly defrauding the agencies and their employees of more than $8.6 million. The defendant, Richard P. Zachmann, was charged with 12 counts of wire fraud in an indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today.

Zachmann, 60, of Aurora, will be arraigned at a later date in U.S. District Court. He was vice president of Life Associates, Inc., and between 2001 and 2008 controlled operations of the business, which he and his wife owned. Life Associates, which had offices in far west suburban Sandwich and later in Sugar Grove, administered employee pension plans and group life insurance programs for more than 100 public housing authorities in 21 states, with thousands of employee beneficiaries. Chicago area clients included the public housing agencies in Du Page County, Elgin, North Chicago, and East Chicago, Indiana. The Chicago Housing Authority was not a client of Life Associates.

Between 2002 and January 2009, Zachmann allegedly did not disclose to, and concealed from, the housing authorities and the beneficiaries that their pension plans and group life insurance programs had received valuable proceeds when the financial company that serviced the plans converted from a mutual holding company, owned by its policyholders, to a publicly traded company through a process known as “demutualization.” Zachmann allegedly converted approximately $8,628,666 in demutualization proceeds to his and his wife’s personal benefit, to the benefit of Life Associates, and to the benefit of other non-related businesses that Zachmann at least partially owned. Zachmann knew that these proceeds were to be used solely for the benefit of the housing authority benefit plans and their beneficiaries, the charges allege. According to the indictment, Life Associates offered its housing agency clients access to a group life insurance program through Principal Financial Group (formerly known as Principal Mutual Holding Company), based in Des Moines, Iowa, that provided investment management services to the housing authorities. In May 2001, Principal converted from a company owned by its policyholders to a publicly traded company. As a result of the demutualization process, Principal’s customers and policyholders, including the housing authorities, were entitled to share the distributions of Principal’s value at the time of its initial public offering in the form of cash, policy credits and Principal’s stock.

In February 2002, Zachmann caused account credits to the housing authorities’ pension plans to be converted into approximately $6,250,967 in cash. At the same time, he allegedly caused Principal common stock shares credited to the group life insurance plan to be sold and converted into approximately $1,363,458 in cash, which grew with interest over time. In about July 2002, Zachmann caused Principal to debit the demutualization proceeds on roughly a monthly basis, retroactive to April 2002, to pay increased fees to Life Associates, and he provided Principal with false documents purporting to prove that the housing authorities knew about the higher fees, as well as the existence of the demutualization proceeds, the indictment charges.

Between July 2002 and May 2007, Zachmann allegedly caused Principal to make monthly payments to Life Associates totaling nearly all of pension plan demutualization proceeds, which had grown to approximately $6,861,666. As these proceeds were nearing depletion, between February 2007 and January 2009, Zachmann allegedly caused Life Associates to receive payment of life insurance demutualization proceeds totaling approximately $1,767,000. The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $8,628,666 in alleged proceeds of the fraud scheme.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine of $250,000, and restitution is mandatory. The court may also impose a fine totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to the defendant, whichever is greater. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Boutros.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Mohammad Nawaz Khan, Iquila Begum Khan, Mohammad Shahbaz Khan, Gurdev Kaur Johl, and Kewal Singh Arrested by the FBI in an Alleged $5 Million Fraud Scheme

May 2, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 1, 2012 released the following:

“Five Arrested in Sutter and Yuba Counties for $5 Million Fraud Scheme

SACRAMENTO, CA— United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that five individuals have been arrested in Sutter and Yuba Counties for their participation in a long-running unemployment and disability fraud scheme.

Mohammad Nawaz Khan, 56, and Iqila Begum Khan, 31, both of Live Oak; and Mohammad Shahbaz Khan, 56, Gurdev Kaur Johl, 67, and Kewal Singh, 74, all of Yuba City, were arrested today. They are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman at 2:00 p.m. today. Also charged in the complaint, but not arrested is Mohammad Adnan Khan, 32, of Live Oak.

According to the criminal complaint, the defendants began forming a series of companies with the Employment Development Department in 1989. The most recent company was formed in 2011. All of these companies purported to be farm labor contractors that provided labor to harvest various agricultural crops in Sutter and Yuba Counties.

However, undercover operations by a number of confidential sources showed that these businesses were in fact selling wages to hundreds of individuals in Northern California. The defendants would charge an individual approximately $250 for $1,000 in wages. The purchaser, who never performed any work for the defendants’ companies, would then claim to be laid off and file for unemployment benefits, disability benefits, or both.

When interviewed by EDD, the individuals who claimed to have worked for these companies would oftentimes not know the location where they worked, or the name of their supervisor. Sometimes they would report earnings that greatly exceeded the agricultural norms for the area. Many of the employees reported by these companies were between 50 and 70 years old and claimed that their duties consisted of picking peaches and harvesting walnuts, physically demanding work.

According to the criminal complaint, in order to further the fraud, the defendants used the name “Mohammed Khan,” used each other’s business addresses, repeatedly hired and laid off each other, and continually changed the names of the businesses.

The investigation is ongoing in order to determine the full extent of the fraud. A preliminary analysis of EDD claim records has found more than 2,000 potentially fraudulent unemployment and disability claims and more than $5 million lost.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, and the Investigation Division of the California Employment Development Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jared C. Dolan is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined after conviction at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables The charges are only allegations. Each of the defendants listed is presumed innocent, unless and until proven guilty.”

US v. Khan et al – Federal Criminal Complaint

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Ex-CFO at Taylor Bean and Whitaker Pleads Guilty in a $3B Fraud Scheme

March 21, 2012

Boston Globe March 20, 2012 released the following:

“Ex-exec at Taylor Bean pleads guilty in $3B fraud

By Matthew Barakat
AP Business Writer

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The chief financial officer of what had been one of the nation’s largest private mortgage companies pleaded guilty to charges Tuesday for his role in a $3 billion fraud scheme.

Delton de Armas, 41, of Carrollton, Tex., was CFO of Florida-based Taylor Bean and Whitaker up until its collapse in 2009.

On Tuesday de Armas became the eighth person convicted in one of the biggest fraud schemes to emerge from the nation’s housing crisis. The other seven, including Taylor Bean founder and chairman Lee Farkas, were sentenced last year, with Farkas receiving a 30-year term.

De Armas faces up to 10 years after pleading in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to commit fraud and making false statements.

The company hid billions of dollars in debts with phony accounting and by double- and triple-selling mortgages it held to various financial institutions.

Taylor Bean’s collapse threw its 2,000 employees out of work and also helped bring down Alabama-based Colonial Bank, the sixth-largest bank failure in U.S. history.

At Tuesday’s plea hearing, de Armas first tried to tell the judge that he only became aware of the fraud at the very end of the scheme, but under questioning from U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, he acknowledged that he knowingly signed off on misleading financial statements back to 2006.

Between 2006 and 2009, the “hole” in Taylor Bean’s books for a subsidiary called Ocala Funding grew from $150 million to more than $1 billion.

Regarding the company’s financial statements, de Armas told the judge: “Hindsight has the benefit of clarity. … I regret that I didn’t speak up more.”

He declined comment after Tuesday’s hearing.

Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, whose office prosecuted the case, said de Armas could have put a stop to the fraud the moment he discovered it.

“Instead, the hole in Ocala Funding grew to $1.5 billion on his watch, and as it grew, so did his lies to investors and the government,” MacBride added.

While the housing crisis apparently peaked a couple of years ago, prosecutors continue to bring a large number of mortgage fraud cases, with the Taylor Bean case among the most prominent. The FBI says that nearly 1,100 individuals were convicted of mortgage fraud in fiscal 2011 alone.

“The actions of Mr. de Armas and his co-conspirators contributed to the financial crisis and led to the collapse of one of the country’s largest commercial banks. The FBI and our partners remain vigilant in investigating such fraudulent activity in our banking and mortgage industries,” said James McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Florida Couple and Utah Man Indicted for Alleged Roles in Procurement Fraud Scheme Involving Foreign Military Materials

October 13, 2011

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on October 12, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON — Three individuals were charged in an indictment returned today by a federal grand jury in Utah for their alleged roles in a bribery and fraud scheme involving federal procurement contracts, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David B. Barlow for the District of Utah.

The four-count indictment returned today in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City charges Sylvester Zugrav, 68, and Maria Zugrav, 66, both of Sarasota, Fla., and Jose Mendez, 49, of Farr West, Utah, with conspiracy to commit bribery and procurement fraud. The Zugravs and Mendez also are each charged with bribery. In addition, Mendez is charged with procurement fraud.

According to the indictment, Mendez worked as a program manager for the U.S. Air Force Foreign Materials Acquisition Support Office (FMASO). The mission of FMASO is to purchase foreign military materials on behalf of their customers, which are various U.S. military divisions. The materials are acquired outside of the United States by third party companies, or vendors, and then purchased by FMASO on behalf of its customers. There are a limited number of vendors permitted to contract for the sale of foreign materials to FMASO, one of which is Atlas International Trading Corporation (Atlas). According to the indictment, Sylvester and Maria Zugrav were the principals of Atlas.

According to the indictment, the Zugravs and Mendez conspired to enrich one another by exchanging money and other things of value for non-public information and favorable treatment in the procurement process. The Zugravs allegedly offered Mendez approximately $1,240,500 in payments and other things of value throughout the course of the conspiracy. The Zugravs allegedly made bribe payments to Mendez in three different ways: cash payments via FedEx to Mendez’s home address; in-person payments of cash and other things of value; and electronic wire transfers to a bank account in Mexico opened by and in the name of Mendez’s cousin. According to the indictment, from approximately 2008 to August 2011, the Zugravs gave Mendez and a person close to him more than $185,000 in payments and other things of value, with promises of additional bribe payments if Atlas were to receive future contracts for the sale of foreign materials to FMASO customers.

In return for the bribes offered and paid, Mendez allegedly gave Atlas and the Zugravs favorable treatment during the FMASO procurement process, including disclosing government budget and competitor bid information, which helped Atlas and the Zugravs in winning FMASO contracts.

According to the indictment, Mendez and Sylvester Zugrav allegedly communicated offers and requests for bribes in person and through email, and took steps to conceal their activity, using covert email addresses, password-protected computer documents, code words and false names. Within the encrypted documents, Mendez adopted the name “Chuco” and Sylvester Zugrav used the name “Jugo,” and they referred to cash as “literature.”

The Zugravs and Mendez each are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and procurement fraud, and one count of bribery. Mendez is also charged with one count of procurement fraud for disclosing non-public information to a separate FMASO vendor other than Atlas.

The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for procurement fraud is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the maximum penalty for bribery is 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value, whichever is greater. The indictment also seeks forfeiture from all three defendants, if convicted.

An indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Office of Special Projects. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Marquest J. Meeks and Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos A. Esqueda for the District of Utah.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Chicago Federal Grand Jury Indicted Five Chicago Individuals on Federal Fraud Charges for Allegedly Receiving Kickbacks totaling at least $800,000

July 15, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois on July 14, 2011 released the following:

“FORMER NORTH CHICAGO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER AND TRANSPORTATION DIRECTOR AMONG FIVE DEFENDANTS INDICTED FOR ALLEGED ROLES IN $800,000 KICKBACK SCHEME INVOLVING STUDENT BUSING CONTRACTS

CHICAGO — A former North Chicago school board member and the district’s former transportation director were indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly receiving kickbacks totaling at least $800,000 from three co-defendants who controlled several different companies that received at least $21 million in student bus contracts over nearly a decade. All five defendants were charged in a 26-count indictment alleging that, between 2001 and August 2010, they schemed to defraud and deprive the citizens of North Chicago, located in Lake County, and the approximately 4,000-student North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 (NCSD) of the honest services of former school board member Gloria Harper and former transportation director Alice Sherrod. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury late yesterday and announced today by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The North Chicago School District cooperated with the investigation.

Harper, 59, of North Chicago, who was a member of the NCSD board from 1999 to May 2009, and Sherrod, 59, of Gurnee, who was District 187’s transportation director from 2001 to July 2010, allegedly used their positions to enrich themselves secretly by soliciting and accepting gifts and cash from their three co-defendants in exchange for favorable official action regarding student transportation contracts. Initially, Harper and Sherrod allegedly received kickbacks of approximately $4,000 to $5,000 a month but, by 2003, they were collecting approximately $20,000 a month, the indictment alleges.

Also indicted were: Derrick Eubanks, 47, of Lake Villa; Tommie Boddie, 66, of Wadsworth; and Barrett White, 52, of Matteson. All five defendants were each charged with six counts of wire fraud and various counts of soliciting or paying bribes. All but White were also charged with multiple counts of filing false federal income tax returns. All five defendants will be arraigned on dates still to be determined in U.S. District Court.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $9.67 million, as well as 48 buses and vans and seven personal automobiles.

According to the indictment, from the late 1990s until mid-2003, the NCSD contracted with various companies to provide student transportation, including T&M Transportation, which was owned at least in part and controlled by Boddie, and Eubanks Transportation, which was owned at least in part and controlled by Eubanks. In approximately 2001, Harper and Sherrod met with Boddie and told him they would arrange for the NCSD to increase the number of students that T&M transported if Boddie agreed to pay them in return, and Boddie agreed. At Harper’s request, White began acting as an intermediary, or “bagman,” receiving cash from Boddie, keeping some for himself, and providing the bulk to Harper, who, in turn, shared the money with Sherrod, the indictment alleges.

To facilitate his role as the scheme’s bagman, White established D’Amoto Transportation, which he used to funnel money from Boddie’s T&M company to Harper and Sherrod. Sometime in 2002 or 2003, White established BWT Transportation to replace D’Amoto. In approximately May 2003, Harper allegedly suggested to Boddie and Eubanks that they join together to form one company to bid on NCSD transportation contracts. Both Harper and Sherrod told Boddie and Eubanks that if they won the contract they would have to split the profits with the two school officials, and the two men agreed to do so, the charges allege. As a result, Boddie and Eubanks created Safety First Transportation, Inc., which won the NCSD’s transportation contract in 2003. Once Safety First began to receive school district payments, White allegedly converted Safety First’s funds into cash to pay Harper for her to share with Sherrod, while White kept a portion for himself. Neither White nor his company, BWT, did any work for Safety First and their sole role was to funnel cash to Harper
and Sherrod, according to the indictment.

As a result of an IRS audit of Safety First in 2006-2007, Safety First began providing funds to White as an employee, as well as continuing to provide him with funds as a contractor, in late 2006, even though he continued to provide no service other than paying kickbacks as an intermediary.

Also as a result of the audit, Harper allegedly agreed that White’s portion of the proceeds should be increased to compensate him for the tax debt White owed the IRS. All five defendants agreed that an amount of Safety First’s revenues from the NCSD would be excluded from the profits to be split with Harper and Sherrod and instead would be used to repay tax debts owed by Boddie, Eubanks and White, the charges allege.

The fraud scheme and individual tax counts allege that Boddie and Eubanks filed false federal tax returns for Safety First claiming that they paid White hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees and wages for assisting them in obtaining the transportation contract with NCSD. In fact, the indictment alleges that money paid to White was intended solely to fund the kickbacks to Harper and Sherrod in exchange for helping them win and maintain the transportation contract.

In April 2008, the defendants allegedly agreed to set up a new company, Quality Trans, LLC, to replace Safety First and to assume its contracts with the school district. All five allegedly agreed to split among them Quality Trans’s profits, and Boddie, Eubanks and White continued to make cash payments to Harper and Sherrod. In June 2009, Quality Trans won a five-year contract to provide NCSD with transportation services.

Various tax counts allege that Boddie and Eubanks took false deductions for the money that Safety First paid to White and which White then funneled as kickbacks to Harper and Sherrod. Other tax counts allege that Harper and Sherrod filed false individual tax returns failing to report the kickbacks they received as income.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Getter and Greg Deis.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and each count of soliciting or paying bribes carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine. As an alternative, the Court may impose a maximum fine totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to any defendant, whichever is greater, and restitution is mandatory. Filing a false federal income tax return carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, a defendant convicted of tax offenses faces mandatory costs of prosecution and remains civilly liable to the Government for any and all back taxes, as well as a civil fraud penalty of 75 percent of the underpayment plus interest. If convicted, the Court must determine a reasonable sentence to impose under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Former Financial Executives Indicted for Alleged Fraud Scheme

July 28, 2010

Three former financial services executives were indicted today for their alleged participation in fraud schemes and conspiracies related to bidding for contracts for the investment of municipal bond proceeds and other municipal finance contracts, the Department of Justice announced.

The 12-count indictment was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in New York City. The indictment charges Dominick P. Carollo, Steven E. Goldberg, and Peter S. Grimm, all former executives at financial service companies or financial institutions, with participating in alleged wire fraud schemes and separate fraud conspiracies at various time periods from as early as 1999 until 2006.

The charged conspiracies and schemes all relate to the provision of a type of contract, known as an investment agreement, to public entities, such as state, county, and local governments and agencies throughout the United States. Major financial institutions, including banks, investment banks, insurance companies, and financial services companies are among the providers of investment agreements and other related municipal finance contracts. Public entities seek to invest money from a variety of sources, primarily the proceeds of municipal bonds that they issued to raise money for, among other things, public projects. Public entities typically hire a broker to conduct a competitive bidding process among various providers for the award of an investment agreement to invest such money. Competitive bidding for these agreements is the subject of regulations issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and is related to the tax-exempt status of the bonds.

The companies that employed Carollo, Goldberg, and Grimm all marketed financial products and services, including services as a provider of investment agreements. It is interesting to wonder, if the indicted individuals were in fact engaged in the alleged scheme, why wasn’t their employer aware and why was their behavior not discovered earlier? It seems that the government may have pieced this indictment together over a time period of several years in order to get the charges to stick and complete their version of the story.

The indictment alleges that Carollo, Goldberg, and Grimm conspired with various brokers to attempt to increase the number and profitability of investment agreements and other municipal finance contracts awarded to the provider companies where they were employed. According to court documents, Beverly Hills, California-based Rubin/Chambers, Dunhill Insurance Services Inc., also known as CDR Financial Products, was one of the alleged co-conspirator brokers. Supposedly, Carollo, Goldberg, and Grimm obtained from CDR and other alleged co-conspirator brokers information about the prices, price levels or conditions in competing providers’ bids, a practice known as a “last look,” which is explicitly prohibited by U.S. Treasury regulations. As a result of the information, allegedly, various providers won investment agreements and other municipal finance contracts at artificially determined price levels. In exchange for this information, Carollo, Goldberg, and Grimm submitted losing bids for certain investment agreements and other contracts when requested, and, on occasion, agreed to pay or arranged for kickbacks to be paid to CDR and other co-conspirator brokers.

The indictment also alleges that Carollo, Goldberg, Grimm, and co-conspirators misrepresented to municipal issuers or bond counsel that the bidding process was in compliance with U.S. Treasury regulations. This allegedly caused the municipal issuers to award investment agreements and other municipal finance contracts to providers that otherwise would not have been awarded the contracts if the issuers had true and accurate information regarding the bidding process. The alleged conduct affected the tax-exempt status of the underlying bonds.

According to court documents, the supposed efforts by Carollo, Goldberg, Grimm, and their co-conspirators to affect the bidding for investment contracts, and the execution of a variety of certifications that covered up their actions, also obstructed the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ability to monitor compliance with U.S. Treasury regulations and impeded the IRS’s ability to determine whether municipal issuers had correctly accounted for any money that was owed to the U.S. Treasury.

Again, if the three individuals were in fact engaging in such a wide ranging and complex scheme, why was it not discovered until now, years after the scheme took place? The employers of the three individuals apparently did not notice any illegal behavior. The government is attempting to piece together their version of the story, but we will not really know what happened until the truth comes out at trial.

The fraud conspiracies with which Carollo, Goldberg, and Grimm are charged each carry a maximum penalty per count of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The wire fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty per count of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Goldberg is charged with eight counts of conspiracy and two counts of wire fraud, Grimm is charged with five counts of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud, and Carollo is charged with four counts of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. The maximum fines for each of these offenses may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

An indictment does not mean that the individuals are guilty, or even that they did anything wrong. In order for a grand jury to indict an individual, the government presents their biased story, without having to prove any evidence, and without the individual knowing they are under investigation. An indictment merely alleges the one sided views of the federal government. All individuals are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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